$23 Million COB Transformation Project Launched: Builds Foundation for University of The Bahamas
Aimed at strengthening the institution in key areas that will undergird the future University of The Bahamas, The College of The Bahamas (COB) Transformation Project was launched on March 4th during a special ceremony held at the Harry C. Moore Library and Information Centre. The project is funded by the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in the collective sum of USD23.20 million. The project lays the groundwork towards transition to university status and will result in the enhanced capacity of the COB to deliver high quality tertiary education. Achieving university status for COB is part of Bahamas' strategy: to upgrade skills improve employability, increase productivity and strengthen economic and social cohesion. The Bahamas government has affirmed that The College of The Bahamas will attain university status by the end of 2015. It will be a significant feat for the higher education institution - founded more than 40 years ago - which was always envisaged to evolve into a university. In an impassioned address to stakeholders, project leaders, participants, and members of the College community, Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie implored the audience to consider the aspirational and transformative benefits of the coming University of The Bahamas on the lives of Bahamian citizens. "This is why I want a University of The Bahamas because I believe the lecturers, the professors will be obliged to understand their country, to write about their country, to analyse the economy of their country and to do it publically, to research the country, and therefore I believe that degree of accountability that the country needs will come from the University of The Bahamas. And that is why I feel good about the process that we are involved in. I feel good that we are reaching that point where, here, there will be this excitement," Prime Minister Christie said. The Prime Minister characterised the future University of The Bahamas as a defining step in the evolution of The Bahamas. Division Chief in the Social Sector Division, CDB, Ms. Deidre Clarendon pointed to the Bank's steady support of The Bahamas' national development priorities over the years. She reiterated the critical nexus between human capital formation and tertiary education institutions. "The fundamental point, particularly for small island developing states like ours, is that economic competitiveness and social cohesion are inextricably linked to your capacity to provide an increasing proportion of your population with access to quality higher education. Because of its role in growth and development higher education has contributed significantly to poverty reduction here in The Bahamas and the region," Ms. Clarendon noted. "For decades, access to higher education has enabled Caribbean people of to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take advantage of employment opportunities, improve the quality of their lives and to transition out of poverty," she added. The USD16.18 million loan from the CDB for The College of The Bahamas Transformation Project will allow for enhancements and an augmentation in The College's capacity to deliver quality human resource management, enterprise risk management and business finance systems. It will also enable The College to institutionalize a Quality Assurance System. It will also provide for an upgraded security system, assist with the drafting of the University of The Bahamas Bill and provide for consultancies in the Construction of University of The Bahamas infrastructure. The College's recently formed Office of Institutional Strengthening, headed by Dr. Danny Davis, is leading the project implementation. President of The College of The Bahamas, Dr. Rodney D. Smith asserted that the financing will contribute to the transformation of the institution so that it can better serve The Bahamas, the region and the world. "We will begin and complete a process of institutional strengthening and we will work on civil works to help grow our campus. Already we have been working diligently to complete the draft University of The Bahamas Bill. When the Bill is complete and enacted, we will officially become The University of The Bahamas," President Smith explained. Dr. Smith added that The College of The Bahamas Transformation Project will lead to an enhanced learning environment with the completion of Construction on the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre, new residence halls and energy-efficient enhancements at the Keva M. Bethel Building - the primary administrative block at the Oakes Field Campus - and the Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute. "At the end of this project, the University of The Bahamas will have enhanced capacity to provide even better quality tertiary education," he said. CDB officials hosted a three-day workshop this week to discuss the framework for the efficient execution of the transformation project and the terms of the loan agreement. Minister of Education Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald said the project supports the policy of the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas of upgrading skills and human development for employability and productivity, leading to increased levels of economic growth and social cohesion. CAPTION: President of The College of The Bahamas, Dr. Rodney D. Smith asserted that the financing will contribute to the transformation of the institution so that it can better serve The Bahamas, the region and the world. CAPTION: Ms. Deidre Clarendon, Division Chief in the Social Sector Division, CDB, reiterated the critical nexus between human capital formation and tertiary education institutions.